From the ground up: Gardening seminars heat up during cold winter

Indian Creek Nature Center’s annual sale slated for May 2

Published: February 9 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:24 am in

It has seemed a tough, cold winter. However, days are getting longer and the garden calendar is heating up with events to get your gardening season moving. Here are a few for your consideration.

It’s not too late to register for the Linn County Master Gardener Winter Gardening Fair from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Kirkwood Community College. Cost for the daylong event is $49 and includes lunch. Choose from 45 different classes featuring everything from herbs and houseplants to ornamental grasses, perennials, vegetable gardening and beyond.

There’s also no shortage of weekly gardening classes to attend, as Master Gardeners present classes at the Hiawatha, Ely and Cedar Rapids libraries. Classes are free and no registration is required.

Stop at the Hiawatha library Monday nights from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to hear how plants have played a part in history, and how to build a garden using bales of straw.

Thursday night class topics at the Ely library include cottage gardens, hydrangeas and planting for winter interest.

April classes at the Cedar Rapids Ladd Library are scheduled Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Topics include fabulous foliage and growing baskets and containers.

The Creative Gardening Series is back with a change in location. The series will be presented in the Whipple Auditorium at the Cedar Rapids downtown library. Sessions are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and generally are well attended, so arrive early for best seating. It kicks off March 27 with Bill Shore’s presentation on Small Space Food Gardens. Learn techniques to produce food organically in small urban/suburban spaces. Among his garden pursuits, Shore manages gardens for renowned Chicago restaurateur Rick Bayless.

If you’d like to trade synthetic fertilizers and pervasive pesticides for more natural lawn care, don’t miss “Guys on Grass: Organic Lawn Care 101” presented April 3 by Mike Nowak. Nowak explains how some simple cultural practices can be just as effective as expensive chemicals to keep your lawn green and healthy.

Jim Locklear closes out the series April 10 with his presentation “The View from Phlox Mountain.” Locklear is director of conservation at Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens and takes us on a tour of the phlox genus of 60 species that includes many of America’s most beloved wildflowers, and has yielded plants that are cultivated by gardeners around the world.

Find details for all these events on the Linn County Extension website at

Also, mark your calendars now for upcoming plant sales. The Indian Creek Nature Center’s annual sale is slated for May 2, followed by Iowa City’s Project Green sale on May 10 and our own Linn County Master Gardener plant sale on May 17.

Jackie MacLaren is a Linn County Master Gardener.


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